Especially Those who Labor in the Word: 1 Timothy 5:17 and the Plurality of Elders -- By: John H. Niemelä

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 10:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: Especially Those who Labor in the Word: 1 Timothy 5:17 and the Plurality of Elders
Author: John H. Niemelä


Especially Those who Labor in the Word:
1 Timothy 5:17 and the Plurality of Elders

John H. Niemelä

Dr. John H. Niemelä is Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Chafer Theological Seminary. He received a B.A. from University of Minnesota and a Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has defended the Two-Gospel Hypothesis in Three Views on the Origin of the Synoptic Gospels, ed. Robert Thomas (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002). His e-mail address is langprof@verizon.net

Introduction

Over the years, several forms of church government have arisen. Within non-denominational American churches three models seem predominate:

  1. One elder (pastor), plural deacons1

  2. Plural elders (pastors), plural deacons2

  3. One teaching / ruling elder, plural ruling elders, plural deacons3

These models translate into four leadership structures, because the third appears in two versions. Specifically, model 3A depicts a three-tier structure, while 3B conceives of the teaching / ruling elder as a first among equals in relation to the ruling elders.

Model 1

Model 2

Model 3A

Model 3B

Pastor

(Teaching /

Ruling Elder)

Pastors

(Teaching /

Ruling Elders)

Pastor

(Teaching /

Ruling Elder)

Pastor

(Teaching /

Ruling Elder)

Ruling

Deacons

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